Many software firms are driven by leaders and entrepreneurs with strong technical expertise, but perhaps not as much expertise or desire in building & leveraging the necessary relationships to drive growth. Viewed collectively, these relationships may encompass:
- Business Development: acquiring key strategic accounts for alpha tests and beta deployments; also acquiring 'lighthouse' or strategic accounts that will provide early referenceability
- Building the Talent Ecosystem: identifying and developing those individuals who will bring insights, more brand awareness, additional referrals, and management expertise to ensure growth. Talent includes: advisors, customer councils, board members, members of the management team, and key consultants (interim executives, for example)
- Alliances / ISV Development: identifying, developing, negotiating with, and enabling key partners to sell solutions / products in the marketplace. Given the abundance of software firms, the consolidation of the major ISVs, and the desire of most corporate accounts to streamline vendor selection towards integrated business solutions, it is imperative that software start ups fully leverage indirect sales models to promote growth
- International Growth: same as the bullets above, but focusing on select international markets (APAC, EMEA). Relationships required include: talent, technology partners, sales partners
- Strategic Growth: those relationships required to position a company for acquisition or merger, or to identify those companies / technologies appropriate for acquisition. This relationship category aligns closely with building strategic alliances (above); identifying and building relationships with key technology partners that may result in an M&A event necessary to ensure continued growth, and allow for a successful exit for investors
Each of these relationship 'building blocks' have their own methodology and attributes (which I will cover in subsequent blog posts), but viewed collectively, this framework allows executives in technology firms to visualize the set of optimized & leveraged resources (internal and external) necessary to acheive key growth milestones.